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Five Common Phobias In Dogs That Can Be Avoided Entirely With Puppy Conditioning

Phobias in dogs can relate to more or less anything you can think of, even the most innocuous of objects or situations. That said, some canine phobias are really widespread and in fact affect more dogs than not; and the one thing that all of the common phobias dogs might exhibit have in common is that you can avoid them entirely or at least make them far less acute by conditioning your puppy to be ok with them.

This article will tell you the five most common phobias in dogs that you can train your puppy away from before they even turn into a problem. Read on to learn more.

Car journeys

Most dogs take car journeys in their stride, and often enjoy them very much for a great many reasons. The first of these is that a car journey means company and being included in things, and also that they might get to go somewhere exciting, like a new place to walk. Dogs also love sniffing all of the scents as the world goes by from a small safely opened gap in a window.

This is the case for most dogs, and part of the reason for this is that most dogs are carried in the car regularly from almost as soon as they get to their new home.

However, for dogs that aren’t very used to car journeys and that are not introduced to them young, they can find the occasional trips they do make in the car stressful and even traumatic. They might also get travel sick, which tends to be caused by either anxiety or the unfamiliar motion of the car, or both; both of which too can be negated by getting puppies used to the car when they’re young.

Fireworks (and loud noises in general and to an extent, storms)

Fireworks is one of the most common canine phobias of all, and while the degree to which fireworks causes dogs to react poorly can be really variable from dog to dog, few dogs are not bothered by the bangs and flashes of fireworks at all. 

Those that are completely cool when fireworks are in the offing are almost universally those whose owners proactively worked with them over the course of weeks and months when they were very young to condition them not to fear loud noises and weird lighting patterns.

Fear of loud bangs is instinctive (for humans as well as dogs)! And is an evolutionary survival trait. Even us humans jump at unexpected bangs; but we soon calm down when we realise it was a firework rather than say, a bomb. Dogs on the other hand have no frame of reference for this, but if you begin with your puppy, you can teach them and condition them from the get-go that a bang is not a source of fear as nothing bad happens after it has made them jump.

As mentioned, this takes time as you need to start with more muted and lone sounds and build up to an absolute racket (like banging pots and pans) but this is very worthwhile and holds value for your dog for life.

Conditioning your dog not to be afraid of bangs also means they will be less phased by things like shotguns in the countryside and bangs in general. It will also help them to cope with storms, although storms are a more immersive sensory experience and one you cannot emulate, so this might not be quite as pronounced.


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Being left alone

Separation anxiety in dogs might not be as pronounced as fireworks anxiety (although for some dogs it is very dramatic) but is just as common, and tends to be triggered more frequently too. Puppies need to begin to get used to spending time alone from the time they are young, with this extended progressively and the experience made positive so your pup will be able to stay alone at home happily and without getting het up alter.

Never leaving your puppy alone an enabling their anxiety is not being kind and dedicated, it is setting your pup up for a lot of anxiety for the whole rest of their life, and makes your own life more difficult too.

Going to the vet

For some dogs, going to the vet can be great fun as they get to meet new people, potentially sniff some other dogs, be the centre of attention and maybe a win a treat! This tends to be the case for puppies that are conditioned to be used to going to the vet from a young age; just to enter the building and say hello (and get that treat…) rather than only when they’re sick or need vaccinations.

Dogs that only go to the vet for injections, surgery or treatment when ill on the other hand, can develop a real phobia of the clinic as a whole.

Dogs have long memories of not just pain, but also things that frighten them or upset them, but if your dog does ever need to go to the vet for something that they might regard negatively (and 99% of dogs will, factoring in spay and neuter) this event being just one occurrence in a far broader experience of being patted and fed on visits from a young age is unlikely to phase them!

Being professionally groomed

Finally, picking the right dog groomer is vitally important to both make sure your dog gets the haircut you want for them and to ensure they find their visit a positive experience. While some dogs like baths and being pampered, there are facets of dog grooming visits that most dogs will find weird, potentially scary, or otherwise not positive. This might be anything from the sound of the hairdryer to having to have knots and matts dealt with.

Much as is the case with veterinary visits, the chances are there will be more and less positive grooming sessions at different times. But by getting your pup used to the groomer when they’re young, choosing the right groomer, and making the trip fun and rewarding for them, you can avoid anxiety later on; and reduce the chances of your dog snapping at the groomer too.


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